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30/01/2018: SAN FRANCISCO PCG PERSONNEL TRAIN AS MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID RESPONDERS

On 27 January 2018, in line with its Spark*Connect*Empower initiative, the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco in partnership with the San Mateo County Health System, conducted a one-day seminar on Mental Health First Aid at the Philippine Center Building. In attendance were officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, personnel of the various attached agencies, and the Philippine Center Management Board (PCMB).

In his opening remarks, Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. emphasized the importance of taking care of ones body and mind, saying that in order for Post’s personnel to spark interest and love for country among the Filipino-Americans in the Consulate’s area of jurisdiction, personnel must be of sound health, a need which this seminar seeks to address.

The curriculum is based on the Mental Health First Aid USA, the accrediting body in the US for individuals and groups to be certified as mental health first aid providers. The 8-hour training discussed in depth the various signs and symptoms of different mental health disorders, providing the participants with the skills and information necessary to be able to provide mental health first aid to themselves, their families and friends, and even to clients in the Consulate.

Among the issues discussed during the seminar involved the prevalence of mental health problems in the United States and the world, the reasons why these exist and the various risk factors and signs and symptoms for the most prevalent mental health problems. These major mental health problems include depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and substance abuse disorders.

The most important part of the seminar involves the preparation of the ALGEE action plan in case participants encounter persons who may possibly have a mental health problem --- Assess for risk of suicide and harm; Listen nonjudgmentally; Give reassurance and information; Encourage appropriate professional help; and Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

All those who successfully completed the eight (8) hour training were given certificates of accreditation, with a validity of three years, from Mental Health First Aid USA as first aid mental health givers. END